October 30, 2019
By Alicia McClendon
The power, possibility and responsibility of being a self-made success was a major takeaway from day two of the 2019 Forbes Under 30 Summit.
The annual summit came to Detroit for the first time ever this week, and will return for the next two years, bringing doers and hopeful doers from around the country to experience more than a “static conference.” An estimated 10,000 convened at the Masonic Temple for four days of programming featuring a dynamic speaker lineup, from celebrities to CEOs – all self-made experts.
Turns out, the Under 30 Summit serves to uplift the “entrepreneurial spirit” and millennials. And the summit’s speakers knew their audience well, often theming their wise words on accepted millennial values (impact, sustainability, teamwork, meaningful investing). Leaders in startup, social media, marketing, and next generation mobility, such as May Mobility co-founder Alisyn Malek and PlayVS founder Delane Parnell, took to the stages at every hour.
The host city’s own story reinforces the summit’s message to persist despite challenges. After a dark decade, Detroit is now having a comeback, and blossoming as a home for new startups, small businesses, expansions, and major investments.
The Under 30 Summit’s day two kicked off with a welcome from Mayor Mike Duggan, reminiscing about the time he moved to Detroit right out of college in the 1980s. “I believe Detroit is going to make a comeback,” he told unconvinced friends back then. Decades later, Duggan witnessed Detroit’s population decline, financial downturn, and deep division. At the time, Duggan was CEO of the Detroit Medical Center (DMC). He said the unity he saw at DMC convinced him that, with a new leader, the city could be revived. “Today, we are building a city where everybody is welcome and everybody is valued,” Duggan said to applause from the Under 30 Summit crowd.
Duggan’s own traits: self-starter, team player, and solution seeker also characterize the millennial workforce. These traits are also apparent in the Under 30 Summit’s most recognizable guest speakers, such as actress Olivia Munn, who invested in Uber before its popularity. “I go towards brands that are disruptive. It’s best to aim high and miss, then to make a habit of aiming low,” Munn told the summit’s attendees.
Jay Farner, CEO of Quicken Loans, also shared wise words. “If you’re not being disruptive in every way, someone is going to beat you out,” he advised. Farner continued, saying “You can live in a world where you’re fighting over a piece of the pie or you can create the size of the pie.”
Forbes Under 30 Summit returns to Detroit in 2020 and 2021.